19 September – Can Tho
Awake at 7.30am; a little bit of a sleep in, I suppose.
The process of then figuring out how I actually feel, begins.
And through the haze of just waking up, a realisation hits me.
I feel good. Like, really good!
Finally, after a week, it seems to have gone. I feel normal: well, as normal as is possible for me; and it’s a strange, but also very welcome, feeling.
Hopefully I can really start to enjoy this trip now, with one less thing to worry and think about.
Happy realisation made, it’s time to contemplate our day. But seeing as it’s raining, seeing as we’re both feeling a little lazy, and seeing as we don’t have any real plans for the day, we decide that our current position isn’t actually a bad place to be.
So, to the outside sounds of rain falling, frogs croaking, roosters crowing, birds chirping, and the occasional motorbike in the distance, we just let laziness be our thing for a little while longer.
Eventually laziness becomes boring – Lisa is much better at it than me – and we head up to breakfast a bit before 9.00am.
Eggs on toast, fruit of banana, orange and dragon fruit, and a caphe sua da, while Lisa forgoes the caffeine hit for a passionfruit juice.
While enjoying breakfast, Hanh returns our laundry. I’m stunned, seeing as we only gave it to her last night at dinner.
The rain has now stopped, and while that opens up opportunities for us to actually do something, that urge of being lazy returns, so we just sit and take in the sights and sounds around us.
Big Big the German Shepherd is being rather friendly this morning, and he even tries to engage Nana the cat. But Nana, being a cat, just ignores him. She also seems to have forgotten who her best friend from last night is.
And Lisa wonders why I’m a dog person…..
Finally, the decision is made to actually do something today, and that something is a bike ride, so we head back to the room to get organised.
Which, incidentally, has already been cleaned up.
They are very efficient here at Green Village.
Back outside and Hanh helps us with the bikes. We’re soon on our way, and apart from eventually heading up to our little village, we don’t really have too much of a plan in mind.
Well, while not critical, finding an ATM might be beneficial. And there is also the desire to try and find some sort of cake shop, seeing as it’s Cammy’s birthday in a few days’ time.
I suspect finding an ATM will be the easier proposition, although confidence is not terribly high on that, either.
Out on to one of the main roads, which is not normally the way we’d go to get to our village. I’m not really sure why we’re going this way; Lisa seems to think it’s a good idea; but that’s okay, there’s a fair chance we’ll see things that we wouldn’t ordinarily see.
And anyway, we’ve found getting lost in Vietnam can often lead to some pretty good moments.
We continue on and eventually get to a T-intersection. Two options available – well, three if you include turning back and going the tried and tested way to the village; so we turn right. The road quickly becomes bumpy, and then not long after, we end up on a road that is more a path than a road.
It’s about now that I’m not sure that letting Lisa be in charge of navigation was such a great idea….
But, against my better judgement, we push on.
After several canal crossings, I now have absolutely no idea where we are, and I have absolutely no idea which direction we are actually heading.
Maps.me is utilised, and it confirms that we are nowhere near where we set out to be. But it also doesn’t completely help us get to our target, as not all the narrow paths seem to be on this part of the map.
We continue the aimless riding, stopping occasionally to check the map, while starting to think that packing a flare might have been a good idea.
Thinking we were finally headed in the right direction, but suspecting we quite possibly were not, we end up on a very narrow path. Up ahead are six or seven guys working on the path, and as they see us coming, they motion to us that we can’t actually get through.
No problem, I’m now of the opinion that we don’t really want to be going this way anyway.
We turn around, and as Lisa has been behind me for the last little bit, she’s now in front.
Well, it hasn’t been working the other way…..
I wait for her to move off, which she does, but at an incredibly slow pace. That wouldn’t normally be a problem, but as she does that, she begins to get the wobbles.
Before I have a chance to say or do anything, she disappears off the left side of the path and into a ditch.
My initial thought was what the hell was she trying to do, followed by a split-second thought of it being quite an amusing sight. But before I could either criticize or laugh, I had an overwhelming sense that she may have hurt herself so badly, our holiday plans may have irreversibly changed at that particular moment. Whether it had anything to do with her newly replaced knee, or whether there was now a new ‘injury’.
The fact that her eyes were still open, while laying in the ditch, only made me feel partially better.
“You okay?”, I ask, more than a little nervous about the potential response.
“Yes”, is the rather shaky voiced reply, as I begin getting the bikes out of the way.
Helping her out, she’s at least still in one piece. However that left leg that contains that new metal knee, is what she’s landed on. The mud on the actual knee proves that, and then there is the grazes down her leg, that are now weeping blood.
Hmmm, open wounds in the tropics. With mud. Yep, hmmm…..
“You sure you’re okay?”, I ask again.
“Yes”, is the response again, but quickly followed by, “But my pride isn’t”.
The tears then begin to flow.
We clean her leg up a little, and just generally try and calm both our nerves.
Her knee is sore, along with several other body parts, but she thinks it’s okay. That’s a huge relief, but at the same time, I’m not sure we’re completely out of the woods just yet.
I look back down into the ditch that she was laying in just a few minutes ago, and the realisation that it all could have been so much worse, hits me.
The ATM hunt, as well as the desire to find some kind of sweet dessert, is well and truly over. The challenge now is to find our way back to Green Village. And if our earlier navigating is anything to go by, that could be easier said than done.
Lisa tentatively hops back on the bike, and I nervously watch as she takes off. This time she manages to stay upright, which is good for all concerned. We retrace our steps (or is that tyres?), and we manage, albeit with one or two small navigating errors, to stay on relatively recognisable paths.
An occasional check of Maps.me, and it seems we are indeed heading in the right direction.
On a day seemingly filled with realisations, I then have another one. And this one is the complete opposite to the one I had first thing this morning, when I woke up.
I now actually feel a bit ordinary.
It’s not the thing that I’ve been dealing with for the past week, but just a bit of a feeling that all is not right in my stomach.
Perhaps it’s the heat? Or possibly dehydration? Or maybe a reaction to the stress and concern we’ve just dealt with?
Don’t know, and I’m not spending too much time thinking about it. The pressing issue is to get the bike riding impaired back to Green Village, so she can get cleaned up.
On we go, and we finally reach a part of the path where it initially narrowed after we left the main road.
I now know where we are, and I know we aren’t too far away.
I also now know that I will never let Lisa control the navigating while out riding bikes again.
Soon onto the bumpy road, and then turn left at the T-intersection.
We get to the bridge, and then veer left to take us down to the path that Green Village is on. Under the bridge, and with the Green Village sign almost in sight, that stomach unwellness issue becomes significantly more apparent.
I manage to get out a fairly rushed, ‘Need to stop for a minute’, before pulling up beside the path. No time to actually get off the bike, all I can do is try and reach far enough over in an attempt to keep my feet clean.
The caphe sua da, being the last thing down this morning, is first up.
And it pretty much looks the same. As you’d expect it would….
Stomach muscles soon stop doing their thing, and there’s now slightly more urgency to complete our ride. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a one off thing, but if it’s not, then I’d rather be back in our room than up here fertilizing someone’s garden.
Bikes dropped off, and while Lisa has a shower to remove Mekong Delta mud, I sit on the balcony and wonder where all this is headed.
It doesn’t take long to find out, and I’m soon feeding the fish in the dam. At least in this position I don’t need to be too concerned about keeping my feet clean. Although I was at pains to avoid throwing up all over a rather large snail that was hanging onto a reed just above the water, below me.
Oh well, gave me something to concentrate on….
With the caphe sua da being removed earlier, it was now the fruits turn. Including the dragon fruit seeds, which was interesting.
Stomach spasms easing, I re-take my seat, waiting for round three. And at this point, I know there is definitely going to be a round three.
And sure enough, ten minutes later, I’m up again. This time the distinctive colour of egg is soon melding with the water. It’s amazing what you notice when stuff leaves your body in a hurry.
Back to my seat to await the next instalment, which duly arrives, and is then followed by a fifth and final one. I’m very pleased it ended there, because at that point, there really was nothing left. And when there’s nothing left, well, that’s always far more painful.
I sit for a bit to see what’s next. While the urge to vomit appears to have passed, I now just feel crap. As well as very dizzy and lightheaded.
Lisa returns after getting some help from Cammy to clean up her leg, and then a few minutes later Cammy appears with some ginger tea.
The tea will have to wait; it’s just a little too soon to be putting stuff back in at the moment.
I continue to sit in my haze of dizziness and sweat, and as I do, a feeling of overwhelming tiredness kicks in. I actually end up dozing off while sitting upright, which is pretty impressive for someone who struggles to sleep on a reclining aeroplane seat.
The dozing is soon interrupted by an incredible urge to get to the toilet, which results in the removal of any remaining anything, from my body. And it was all done quicker than it’s ever been done before.
Yep, not a terribly pleasant experience.
Feeling like the worst was possibly over, and really hoping that that was the case, I lay on the bed. An hour later, I woke up.
Feeling rather washed out, but feeling much better than I thought I perhaps would, I sat out on the balcony again to tackle my ginger tea.
I’m shattered. And so frustrated. I just can’t believe that this has happened. I feel like I’m spending most of my time battling something, and it’s starting to make me feel like we’re not supposed to be here.
I actually sit there and contemplate telling Lisa that we should just pack up now, head up to HCMC, and book a flight home. End the trip now, and come back and do it another time.
We’ve been away for just two weeks, and in that time I’ve now vomited on two of those days, as well been sick for a week. It’s draining, it’s wearing me out, and I’m just not sure how much more of it I can take.
Maybe it’s a challenge? Maybe there’s a reason for it? I mean, things happen for a reason, right?
If there is one, I just can’t work out what it is at the moment.
I sit around for a few hours sipping ginger tea, just generally frustrated and annoyed with the world. As well as indulge in a fair amount of self pity, which strangely, and selfishly, feels rather appropriate.
It gets to 3.00pm and the self pity and sitting around doing nothing becomes a bit too much to handle anymore, so I go for a walk around the grounds of Green Village. Having achieved that without further mishaps, I decide to try my hand at the bike riding thing again. Lisa, strangely, isn’t up for a second round.
Trusty bike retrieved, I venture out. Albeit rather slowly and sedately.
Along the path that I know will take me to the village, and avoiding any unknown paths or potential shortcuts.
Eventually reach the village, and seeing as I feel okay, I head across the river over the second bridge. Interestingly, while we’d actually ridden past this bridge each time we’d stayed at Green Village, we’d never actually crossed it. And knowing that that was the case, it was something that I wanted to rectify this trip. Wasn’t sure that desire was going to come to fruition, after this morning’s little episode…..
Over the bridge, and decision needs to be made; left or right?
For no real reason other than the fact I’m right handed, I head right. Along the narrow path, and it’s all very calm and peaceful. Was kind of hoping to find another small village, but apart from several houses set amongst the usual lush vegetation next to the river, there’s not a lot there.
Continuing on, I eventually come across an area where there are large piles of stone and rock. And it’s at this point the narrow path seems to run out at a fairly wide, but quiet, road.
Because it’s flat, and because I haven’t really found anything yet, I push on. I soon reach an intersection and turn right. Again, it’s a pretty wide divided road, but it is a little more built up. Unfortunately though, it’s all rather uninteresting.
I keep going and eventually reach what looks to be a major highway. Those one or two cars and motorbikes that I’ve come across so far, have now been replaced with many, many cars and motorbikes, along with a fair share of trucks. There’s also lots of houses and businesses lining the road.
I briefly consider crossing the road, but I suddenly feel very small on my bike. I’m also aware that I’ve now turned off several paths and roads since I left Green Village, and while I know that my brain is capable of remembering a certain number of turns, I’m not sure what that exact number is.
Probably should have put some rice in my pocket….
I decide to surrender and start heading back. I manage to find my rock piles, which is good, and it then becomes apparent as to why it is all there. A large crane is unloading a boat of its cargo of rock, that is docked in the river. I stop to watch for a minute, and take a couple of photos. One of the two guys that I can see on the boat seems rather interested to see me, and tries to tell me something.
There’s two problems with that; one, he’s speaking Vietnamese, and two, he’s a bit far away to be heard.
He quickly realises the distance factor, so rectifies that by jumping off the boat and coming over to me.
He shakes my hand, and continues talking to me, but it’s just not going to work. It would have been nice to know what he was saying, but in the end, it didn’t really matter. His genuine surprise at seeing me, as well as the fact that he wanted to shake my hand, was more than enough. It’s doubtful I made his day, but he certainly improved mine.
Again, Mekong people.
I bid my farewell, a little happier and more content than a few minutes ago, and continue my ride back along the narrow path.
Seems that school is now out, and I get heaps of hellos from the kids heading home. I even go past an outside karate class, which was duly interrupted when the kids see me.
Not sure if that annoyed the instructor….
Eventually, and fortunately, I find the bridge that goes back to the village. Crossing it, I then stop at the woman’s place we bought water from the other day. Another bottle of water purchased, along with a couple of packets of chips, and also an ice-cream. All for the grand total of 33 000 Dong.
While the ice-cream was likely not the greatest ice-cream I’ve ever had, right at that moment it certainly seemed like it was. Cool, obviously….., and refreshing, it’s the first ‘food’ that has passed my lips, in a downward direction, since breakfast this morning. It was much needed, and the best part was that it stayed where it was supposed to.
Continued the ride, at a very leisurely pace, back to Green Village, and as the sign at the top of the driveway comes into view, another realisation – the next time I see this sign will be as we’re leaving tomorrow.
Which means not only are we about to begin our final night here, but we will also have one of those ‘goodbyes’, that I dread so much, to do in the morning.
Live the moment. Live the moment….
Eventually man up enough to ride past the sign; after prolonging it somewhat by taking photos of it; and return to the hut. I think Lisa is happy to see me back, although it could just be that I’ve brought packets of chips with me.
Best I not mention the ice-cream….
Not surprisingly, one of the packets is promptly opened. And not surprisingly; it can be a bit hit and miss here; these ‘corn’ chips have that distinctive Vietnamese flavour, which is not always that pleasant.
They also have that sweetness to them, which is less pleasant. I just don’t understand why some of their chips are made so sweet.
Chips ‘enjoyed’, and because it’s 5.00pm, and because I need something to help rid my mouth of a particular flavour, I try a couple of beers.
They go down okay, although a little slow, but the fact that they went down in the first place, is a good sign.
Beers done, shower had, we head up for dinner.
Tonight it’s vegetable soup, chicken, rice, and a finely chopped squash like vegetable.
Hey, if I can’t remember fruit names, I sure ain’t remembering vegetable ones.
Regardless of what it was actually called, as per usual, it was all really good.
A bit later on Hanh surprises us with a small gift each. They’re light weight Vietnamese style scarves, which apparently, are designed to keep your neck warm.
Cammy explains that a lot of old people wear them. She’s such a funny girl, our Cammy…..
But really, we weren’t expecting that, so it really was a lovely surprise. However, they’ve just made tomorrow morning that little bit more difficult.
Dinner done, we sit and chat to Cammy. We need to get to Soc Trang tomorrow, to meet up with Quang (Wang) and his family, so she makes a couple of phone calls to see what time the buses leave. Turns out Futa Buslines has a 10.00am bus, so she books that for us.
Lisa contacts Wang to work out a pick up point, and a few minutes later we have instructions to give our driver.
All pretty simple in the end, but having a translator certainly made the whole thing much easier.
Time to call it a night, so we head back to get ourselves sorted. I want things all packed up tonight so we’re not wasting time in the morning, as while I really don’t want to do the goodbye, I also don’t want to rush it.
Bags packed, we get some time to do the usual bed routine.
It’s been an interesting day, and while it didn’t go exactly to plan, it did actually finish okay in the end.
But now, just two weeks in, another chapter, or component, of our trip is about to come to an end. And it was one that I had been looking forward to so much, and for such a long time.
The whole thing is starting to feel like it’s going really quick, and that worries me.
It also feels like we’ve not been able to get quite as much out of it as I’d like, but I guess there are obvious reasons for that.
Hopefully today was the turning point.
But, after the last two weeks, who knows what’s around the corner.